KOCHI: Astar forest, a garden of medicinal herbs, a fruit garden and a butterfly park, which hosts a wooded area with fruits like kiwi, amla, palm, bael etc with the area abounding in squirrels, sparrows, mynas, pheasant crows and cuckoos.
Well, it is not some distant dream but all of these can be seen in the 4.06 hectors land by Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL), the country’s second largest manufacturer of gelatin, an essential ingredient in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, at its plant in Kathikudam near Chalakkudy. The company officials say, “The effort is to enhance the vegetation cover to increase the biodiversity of the surroundings and provide an aesthetic value to an industrial area thereby enhancing the ecological equilibrium of the region.”
This is important for a company, which has been facing flak, unfairly as the company officials say, for its tardy environment process. For instance, during the World Environment Day, when the company was busy preparing a slew of CSR activities in the region, dead fish were found floating in the Chalakudy river. Later it was found the fish were not river fish, indicating that it was an act by miscreants, damaging the reputation of Nitta Gelatin, one of the oldest Indo-Japanese joint ventures. “I learnt the word ‘fish kill’ after joining Nitta Gelatin,” says Sajiv K Menon, managing director of NGIL.
Menon, however, had different plans. When he took charge as MD in 2014 after 32 years of experience in various engineering and chemical industries, NGIL was battling environmentalists, locals and the unions even as it’s balance sheet was showing an unhealthy trend. Three years down the line, NGIL has turned the corner in every sense -- profits, acceptability of the company among the locals and the rising market share of the product in global markets. NGIL has on its rolls 600 people, another 500 people on contract basis and indirect employment to 25,000 people. Most importantly, nearly 95 per cent of the permanent employees are from the three panchayats around its Kathikudam factory.
Menon says, “The company has invested Rs 20 crore to enhance its environment-management systems.” NGIL has also invited people, prominent personalities and others interested on a tour of the company’s premises.
“Even the Church and the parishioners were up in arms against us. But, now, after their visit to our plant, they are satisfied about our systems,” he says.
Studies by independent agencies, has concluded that the steps taken by the company to treat effluents and other residues have yielded results and comply with the applicable regulations.